Pontifications: Catching up on Odds and Ends-Alaska’s Airbus fleet, first E195-E2 delivery, Boeing’s MAX rebranding question

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Sept. 2, 2019, © Leeham News: It’s time to catch up on Odds and Ends.

Alaska Airlines

In its second quarter earnings call and 10Q Securities and Exchange Filing, Alaska Airlines said it was returning one Airbus A319 and two A320s off lease this year and next.

By Scott Hamilton

These airplanes are from its Virgin America acquisition, which introduced the Airbus family into the all-Boeing Alaska mainline operations.

Alaska officials have said several times they are evaluating whether to phase out all Airbuses and return to an all-Boeing fleet, or keep the Airbuses and operate a mixed fleet indefinitely.

I wondered if this was the start of the phase out.

“We are planning to return 1 A319 this year and 2 A320s next year at normal lease expiration,” Brandon Pederson, EVP and CFO of the company, wrote LNA.  “This is not part of a broader fleet  decision, nor a phase out of the smaller Airbus aircraft.  Leases on the remaining 50 A319/A320 aircraft in the fleet have varying maturities through 2025.”

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Pontifications: Boeing can’t catch a break

By Scott Hamilton

July 15, 2019, © Leeham News: Boeing can’t catch a break.

Some may argue it doesn’t deserve one, given what’s come out about the 737 MAX development. And the sloppy production of the 787 at the Charleston (SC) plant. And the FOD issues with the KC-46A at the Everett (WA) plant.

To be sure, Boeing has gotten a lot of bad press it’s deserved. But last week, two pieces of news had connections to the MAX that were (1) overwrought and (2) unwarranted.

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E175-E2 prototype in production, first flight by year end

May 28, 2019, © Leeham News: The first E175-E2 prototype is now in production at the Embraer plant here at Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil, despite having no firm orders and only a single conditional order for 100 aircraft from a US airline that so far can’t use the airplane.

The pilot union contracts contain a clause that prevent the only customer for the aircraft in the world from using it because the take-off weight exceeds the 86,000 lbs specified in the contract.

Embraer designed the airplane with the hope the so-called Scope Clause would be relaxed in contract negotiations this year and next by pilots for American, Delta, United and Alaska airlines. It’s become clear that relief is unlikely.

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Stopping airliner theft

By Bjorn Fehrm

August 15, 2018, © Leeham News.: The theft of the Horizon Air Bombardier Q400 Friday brings the question how easy airliners are to steal and what can be made about it.

Having never flown an airliner before, I recently learned how to start one from cold and get it into the air. Here’s my take on how easy (or not) it is to get an airliner in the air by a novice and what can be done to make it harder.

The Dash 8 Q400 involved in the Friday incident. Source: Wikipedia.

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Pontifications: Horizon Q400 theft spurs thoughts about solo pilot idea

By Scott Hamilton

Aug. 13, 2018, © Leeham News: The bizarre theft of a Horizon Airlines Bombardier Q400 at Sea-Tac Airport Friday night by a 29-year old employee will take some time for investigators to unravel.

The employee, a ramp agent, appeared to have no other motive in mind other than a last joy ride before ending his life.

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Farnborough: A320 engine suppliers roughly on recovery plan

July 19, 2018, © Leeham News, Farnborough: The engine suppliers for the Airbus A320 family are roughly keeping to their recovery plan designed to catch up late deliveries and fix technical problems, a top official said this week.

Guillaume Faury, is the new president and CEO of the Airbus Commercial unit in Airbus Group.

“We look at short-term, medium- and long-term. Short-term, we had an H1 (first half) that was OK for all programs, but the single-aisle was a difficulty with all the engines. We will have a very strong H2 and this is obviously very high on my agenda.

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Pontifications: Limited operations raise doubts over Paine Field airline service

By Scott Hamilton

April 9, 2018, © Leeham News: This fall, the Seattle area will get a second passenger airport: three airlines will begin service at Paine Field, in Everett, which is also home to Boeing’s massive wide-body production plant.

Alaska, Southwest and United airlines will offer 24 fights out of two gates that are under construction.

It’s the first passenger service from Paine Field.

It’s not hardly enough.

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Pontifications: Measured comments and “useful” information

By Scott Hamilton

March 5, 2018, © Leeham Co.: Nothing is as frustrating to a journalist as interview a great subject who doesn’t offer up anything especially useful.

I had a brief sideline interview with one such person at the US Chamber of Commerce Aviation Summit 2018 last Thursday in Washington (DC). Great guy. Not much information.

Brad Tilden, CEO of Alaska Airlines, wasn’t going to be drawn into a discussion of two hot topics facing his carrier. Tilden had just come off an airline CEO panel, where he in his typical Boy Scout charm and enthusiasm opined about the state of the industry, praised the progress of the integration of Virgin America into Alaska and commented on a host of issues. But two topics didn’t come up.

I asked him about the competition vs Delta Air Lines in Seattle, where the two airlines are locked into a major market share battle. I also asked him about the fleet planning now that Alaska operates the Airbus A319, A320 and A321neo inherited from the acquisition of Virgin America. Alaska hitherto has been an all-Boeing 737 operator and recent, Ray Conner, former CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes and a good friend of Tilden, joined the Alaska board of directors.

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Boeing’s special needs in the next decade may be solved by Embraer

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Introduction

Jan. 8, 2018, © Leeham Co.: Key factors may play into the prospective business venture, however it’s defined, between Boeing and Embraer that have gotten little notice.

Boeing’s need for engineering talent from Embraer has been touched on by many media, including LNC. But a detailed analysis hasn’t been forthcoming, that we’ve seen.

Not discussed yet is the fact that new airplane programs at Boeing and Embraer wind down in 2021-22, leaving both companies in danger of facing the next decade without new products at a time when competition will be emerging.

The lack of new airplane programs endangers the engineering talent pool. For Boeing, this is already going to be critical as more than 5,500 engineers and technicians reach age 65 in the next 10 years.

Boeing’s New Midmarket Airplane, if launched, will address part of the company’s new product requirement after 2020. On the other hand, Embraer has no new product, although officials have discussed potentially launching a turboprop program.

Summary
  • Boeing’s 787 and 737 programs wind down this year and in 2020.
  • Embraer’s EJet-E2 program winds down in 2021.
  • Boeing faces talent drain as engineers and technicians age.
  • Boeing NMA needs engineers and Embraer can supply them.

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History undermines Boeing claim of C Series impact: analysis

Analysis

Dec. 22, 2017, © Leeham Co.: Boeing blames a subsidized, price-dumped Bombardier C Series for the poor sales of the smallest member of the 737 family, the -700 and the 7 MAX, but history doesn’t support the claim.

The US Department of Commerce clearly ignored sales evidence that the 737-700 has been “done” for many years and the 737-7 MAX was an unattractive design

Boeing 737-7 MAX. Rendering via Google images.

that hasn’t been fixed with a redesign; airlines simply don’t want the airplane. Commerce levied tariffs amounting to 292% on C Series imported into the United States in the future.

The US International Trade Commission is currently awaiting post-hearing briefs from Dec. 18 testimony from Boeing, Bombardier, Delta Air Lines and other parties to determine whether Boeing suffered “harm” by the C Series deal with Delta and a near-miss with United Airlines.

If the ITC concludes Boeing suffered harm, the DOC tariffs stand. If not, the DOC action is moot. The loser at ITC is expected to appeal.

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